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Long ago, in a desert far away, running 13.1 miles for fun sounded like a great way to spend a weekend in San Antonio. Sitting in my little trailer with Sonic, we planned how I would visit him for the weekend, see the sites, drink like fish, eat authentic Hispanic food, and breeze through our run. We even convinced my best friend from back home, let’s call her Samurai, to join us for the entire Rock and Roll Half Marathon experience.

Flash forward to December 2018 and my less than disciplined post-deployment physical training schedule. There’s a mouthful that is sure to hurt your head and your knees. I have only completed 2 of these half marathon events and each time I was running at least 8 miles per session beforehand. It may sound badass, but trust me, my pace is nothing to brag about. This time, I was only up to 4 miles per session. Cue the foreshadowing as I packed a more robust running recover kit than usual. The average kit includes basics like electrolyte powder, Band-Aids, and sandals. I added Ibprophen 800, aka Army Candy, and Biofreeze gel. Rollerskates? Uber app? Way to get prepared for not being prepared!

Bee and Sophie the Wonder Dog were able to join me as both my support entourage and like-minded Texas Explorers. Flying American Airlines non-stop from LAX to San Antonio was actually a lovely experience. Having an adorable, well behaved dog might have influenced the attentiveness of the flight crew, but they were superb. Bee took full advantage of their ability to pour a bourbon despite turbulence and I continued to hydrate for the race. Sophie the Expert Traveler spent her time sleeping like a little old lady or staring out the window.

Sophie the Expert Traveler

We met up with Samurai and Sonic at the airport and were well on our way to a fun filled evening on the San Antonio Riverwalk. First, we checked into the Townplace Suites San Antonio Downtown. Being a member of the Marriot rewards club has been great considering how much we travel and how many hotels are actually owned by Marriot. Get those points! At the Silver Elite level, you get late check-out, frequent room upgrades, and all of your preferences saved for each booking. I discovered I was allergic to down pillows the hard way. Who knew feathers could be so insidious? Keeping the “Feather free” room request on our member profile has helped me avoid assassination by departed fowl. In San Antonio, we were upgraded to a corner suite with a beautiful view. This gave us plenty of room to war-game the weekend’s activities and decide on a plan. Unfortunately, I was sniped by a wicked migraine only a few hours into the evening. As much as I wanted to continue exploring the local nightlife, I was a few blinks away from puking my guts out from the pain. I combined a hot shower with one of my prescription Maxalt before chugging water and climbing into bed with Sophie the Nursemaid.

Hotel Couch Cuddles

Bee, Sonic, and Samurai found several lively establishments and enjoyed the incredible atmosphere of Downtown San Antonio. It’s as if every night is Spring Break for a group of 21-year-olds out for a bachelor/bachelorette party. I never worried about my husband and friends because I knew they would keep each other safe and have plenty of experience as responsible drunks. The best story of the night was raucously related to me the next morning. They were all having a midnight meal, as professional drunks will, when a photographer came over to the table. Assuming Bee and Samurai were a couple, she asked if they would like their picture taken. Bee, straight-faced, declares, “This is my wife’s best friend!” They said look of horror on the photographer’s face was exceeded only by the speed at which she ran away from their table. We secretly hoped to see her later in the weekend to continue our Novella performance.

Beer is for Breakfast

By the next morning, I was feeling much better and we were able to head out for breakfast when Sonic returned from running the 10K race. He was an overachiever and signed up for multiple races, which does earn an extra cool medal on Sunday. Cool medal jealousy is a real thing at these races. Keeping distance running in mind, when someone says the distance is less than two miles, I feel confident to walk instead of getting a ride. Sophie of the Short Legs did not agree. She made it over a mile before she started giving me the side-eye. I could picture her thinking, “I take 17 steps for every one you take! Get me a stroller, Mom!” I ended up carrying her the remaining distance to the restaurant while she smiled and viewed the city in style. She may only weigh 24lbs, but I was thinking of ways to engineer a kangaroo pouch from my dress and sports bra by the time we reached our destination. Tragically, the outdoor seating had a 45-minute waiting time. After a little water, Rocky-worthy pep talk, and a belly rub, Sophie the High Stepper was ready go again. We found another outdoor restaurant along the Riverwalk that was happy to accommodate our pooped pupper with a big bowl of water. Before going to tour the Alamo, we tucked our sweet girl into her dog bed at the hotel and had a round of electrolyte drinks for everyone.

Nap Time

For a small fee, the Alamo provides listening devices for a self-guided tour experience with almost 40 points of interest throughout the mission. Although we all looked like we had stepped out of the 80s with giant brick phones pressed to our ears, the history was fascinating and worth the loss of cool points. The Alamo is so much more than just the one battle in 1836. We spent over an hour viewing the numerous historical items and touring the grounds. Continuing the historical theme, we ate dinner at Mi Tierra, a local gem with delicious Mexican food. As northern gringos, Samurai and I kept accidently calling it “My Tiara.”

The morning of the great race had finally arrived, and we headed down to the starting area with our compression socks ready. Shout out to my favorite underwear company, Knix, and the fabulous Catalyst sports bra. It has special venting that serves as a snorkel for the underside of the girls. Breathe, you poor imprisoned tatas!     3-2-1 Go!

The race experience can be broken down into these overall thought bubbles.

Miles 1-3:

  • They have live bands!
  • So many Mariachi bands
  • Sonic, you’re starting too fast
  • It’s a little cold in the shade so keep moving

Miles 4-6:

  • We see a live band every so often
  • Sonic, how do you run and drink water without drowning?
  • I’m appreciating the placement of bathrooms along the route
  • Let’s admire and compliment other runners on their outfits

Miles 7-9:

  • The tribute along the route to fallen Soldiers was beautiful
  • Sonic, do you ever run out here?
  • I’ve got to stop kicking the inside of my ankles as I run. Ouch.
  • What is rubbing?

Miles 10-12:

  • Hello regrets
  • Sonic, you promised there were no hills on this route!
  • Those scooters we just passed look so tempting
  • Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Miles 12.5-13.1-13.6:

  • Almost there
  • Don’t forget to try to look alive for the finish line picture
  • My GPS says we are at 13.1 and I still can’t see the finish line
  • So salty over that extra 0.5
  • Point me toward the free snacks and beer

While I will definitely do another race with Sonic and Samurai, I will never attempt another half marathon without proper training. The risk for injury isn’t worth my pride. The city of San Antonio, however, is definitely worth visiting again!

Drink water, stretch, and have safe travels, my friends.

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